PESHAWAR, Pakistan – “The top priority of federal government of Pakistan is to place Federally Administrative Tribal Area (FATA) on the tourism map of Pakistan because this region has awesome natural beauty.”
This was expressed by the Governor of Khybar Pakhtunkhawa (KPK) province of Pakistan, while giving an interview to Chief Editor of Dispatch News Desk (DND) news agency Agha Iqrar Haroon and Babar Gorsi of state run television PTV News, at the Governor House Peshawar.
Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra said that tourism development would start in tribal areas after changing their legal status and after completion of on-going infrastructure development projects, including provision of clean drinking water and all-weather road networks.
Governor said that tourism would play a major role in the economy of FATA and federal government is considering merging this area with province of KPK, and would provide special grant from National Finance Commission (NFC) Award to increase the pace of development. He added that road network was already established in the area and over 80% of towns are linked with each other with all-weather roads.
He said that he was confident that lush green valleys and rugged mountains of FATA would attract more domestic tourists and foreigners would also be allowed to visit this beautiful region after the change of its legal status. It may be mentioned that currently the foreigners cannot visit this tribal region without special permits.
Responding to a question, he maintained that medical college and a university in FATA would start working soon and basic democracy system, also known as Local bodies system, would be introduced in FATA by year 2017.
He was confident that FATA would soon achieve its lost glory in tourism as this region was very popular among tourists from Europe till 1980s, when travelers used to come through the Khyber Pass, such as those taking the Hippie Trail.
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is a semi-autonomous tribal region in northwestern Pakistan, bordering Pakistan’s provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to the east and south, and Afghanistan’s provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Khost and Paktika to the west and north. Region comprised of seven tribal agencies (districts) and six frontier regions, and is directly governed by Federal Government through a special set of laws called the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR).
The character of the region underwent a shift beginning in the 1980s with the entry into the region of the Mujahideen, and CIA Operation Cyclone, against the Soviet Union prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Soviet Union.
FATA was also known as breeding place for terrorism until June 2014 when Pakistan Army initiated operation against terrorists, known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Now area is clear from terrorists and the government has started constitutional and legal process to include this area into mainstream Pakistan. This area has had a special status since independence of Pakistan under an agreement with elders of tribal region, when Pakistan separated from British ruled India in 1947.
FATA is rugged semi-arid land with extreme weather conditions, where temperature goes down to minus 10c in winter and over 45c in summer. However, the area has one of the most beautiful valleys. Domestic tourism has already started in this area which was virtually closed for travelers for the last 30 years, since Soviet-Afghan war.
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